Heart op saves Doncaster boy, aged two

James, Henry and Megan Cook, are raising money for the Children's Heart Surgery Fund at Leeds General Infirmary, where Henry has heart surgery.
James, Henry and Megan Cook, are raising money for the Children's Heart Surgery Fund at Leeds General Infirmary, where Henry has heart surgery.
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Today he is a smiling toddler who loves to play with his brother and sister at the family home in Doncaster.

But for two-year-old Henry Cook, life has been a struggle after he was born with three holes in his heart and a valve that was narrower than it should be. Now, after receiving major treatment from a Yorkshire hospital, his family has drawn up plans to raise money to help future heart patients.

Henry Cook at the time of his operation

Henry Cook at the time of his operation

Henry was born a month early, after doctors had initially raised concerns about his heart being bigger then they had expected. But at first, experts thought he would not have a problem.

But by the time Henry was six months old, issues had become clear. His feet and hands looked blue to his family, and there was often a blue colouring around his lips. He was lethargic and coughed at night. His mum and dad were worried, but doctors had been unable to find a problem.

When he had medical checks aged six months, he had another scan. This time, the medics found two holes in his heart and a pulmonary stenosis - the narrowing of the valve that lets blood flow from the heart to the lungs via the pulmonary artery.

Doctors at Doncaster Royal Infirmary immediately called in an expert consultant from Leeds General Infirmary children's heart unit. After consultation with a surgeon, arrangements were made for an operation. Doctors wanted to leave it as long as they could so that Henry was older and stronger, and better able to withstand the operation.

For mum and dad Megan and James Cook, who also have two older children, Lily, 10, and Finley, five, it was a terrible time. But they got through with help from the Children's Heart Surgery Fund - the charity which works with the Leeds hospital to raise money to help the unit and its patients.

Megan, aged 30 said: "My fear was losing him, knowing how bad to was. They made it clear before the operation that he could go into cardiac arrest. I couldn't even sign the consent form, because I was shaking too much - James had to do that."

Doctors expected to operate for four hours - but it took seven hours after they found a third hold in Henry's heart. From then on the couple kept a constant vigil at Henry's bedside, each doing four hours at a time, until he finally reopened his eyes.

After a quick recovery, he was allowed to leave the hospital and return to the family home on Bawtry Road, Bessacarr.

Six weeks later, he went back for a post operative check.

"I cried when they did the scan, and I could see that finally everything was working as it should," said Megan.

"Henry will need check-ups and he will need an operation every 10 years to replace his valve. There will be things he can't do - he can't do swimming, play contact sports, or go on roller coasters.

"But if was not for the help of the Heart Surgery Fund, I don't know how we would have managed. They did so much for us."

Now Henry's family is raising money for the Children's Heart Surgery Fund, in a bid to thank its staff for all they did. Throughout Henry's stay at the hospital, Megan and James said the charity was there for them, from its staff helping them settle in when they first arrived, to providing accommodation where they could stay while their son was in hospital.

James had organised a charity ghost hunt at the Punch's Hotel, on Bawtry Road, on February 24. The hotel has provided the venue for free. Tickets are priced £30. Contact James on 01302 532115 or on Facebook at James "psychic medium" cook.

He is also offering to do readings for a donation to the charity.

Log onto chsf.org.uk and follow the donate link.